By Joseph Kuchinski, DO, FACOEP-D, Medical Director, Stamford Health Urgent Care
If you’ve decided to begin a summer exercise routine, good for you! This may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, and help you lose weight. This all can, in turn, lead to improvements in sleep habits and self-esteem.
Now, let’s get started. Almost anyone can safely take up walking for 30 minutes a day or every other day to start, with no adverse symptoms. It’s always wise to talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your health or plan to start more vigorous workouts. But for now, here are five steps to start up and stick with your plan:
1. Assess your fitness level. Check your weight, measure your waistline if you have specific goals, or even stretch to see how close to your toes you can reach.
2. Design your fitness program. Consider your goals, create a balanced routine and go at your own pace as you build up daily activity . Remember to include different activities and allow time for recovery.
3. Assemble your equipment. Be sure to pick shoes designed for the activity you have in mind. Wear loose-fitting, light clothing as the weather gets warmer and more humid. Also adjust your start and finish times based on temperature and humidity.
4. Get started. Start slowly and build gradually, breaking things up if you have to. For example, shorter but more frequent sessions may be the way to go in the beginning. Be creative, but listen to your body if you need a break). Be flexible and allow for recovery time, too.
5. Monitor your progress. Retake your personal fitness assessment four to six weeks after starting and again at regular intervals.
Starting an exercise program is an important decision. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.
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